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Overnight Health Care: Pelosi pushes for drug pricing measure | South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine | Early data indicate Pfizer, Moderna vaccines safe for pregnant women

Overnight Health Care: Pelosi pushes for drug pricing measure | South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine | Early data indicate Pfizer, Moderna vaccines safe for pregnant women
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Thursday’s Overnight Health Care. On this Earth Day, President BidenJoe BidenFauci says school should be open 'full blast' five days a week in the fall Overnight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Immigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart MORE unveiled his plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But several climate activists called “bullshit” and dumped wheelbarrows of cow poop near the White House, saying the plan didn’t go far enough.

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Today: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Hillicon Valley: Colonial pipeline is back online, but concerns remain | Uber, Lyft struggle with driver supply | Apple cuts controversial hire Ocasio-Cortez on Taylor Greene: 'These are the kinds of people that I threw out of bars all the time' MORE (D-Calif.) is advocating for the inclusion of a measure lowering drug prices in President Biden’s American Families Plan, despite uncertainty from the White House. South Africa is resuming Johnson & Johnson vaccinations as the pause continues in the U.S., and almost one-third of health care workers said they considered leaving their jobs during the pandemic. 

We’ll start with drug pricing:

Pelosi pushes for drug pricing measure amid uncertainty from White House

There are indications the White House is dropping health care measures from its American Families Plan set to be unveiled next week, and not all Democrats are happy about it. 

Among those pushing for the inclusion of a measure to lower drug prices is Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

House Democrats on Thursday reintroduced their signature legislation to lower drug prices, known as H.R. 3, and Pelosi pointedly noted in a statement that including it in Biden's proposal is important for Democratic lawmakers. The measure would allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, a long-held Democratic goal.

"Lowering health costs and prescription drug prices will be a top priority for House Democrats to be included in the American Families Plan," Pelosi said in the statement.

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The New York Times reported Thursday that the White House will not include health care legislation in the Families Plan, and instead will tout the measures on a separate track.

Asked about that report, White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden says he and GOP both 'sincere about' seeking infrastructure compromise The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Colonial pays hackers as service is restored Colonial paid hackers almost M in ransom: report MORE listed health care as a separate topic from the Families Plan, ahead of Biden's speech to Congress next week.

"I expect the president, as I noted, to talk about the American Families Plan in his joint address, as well as a number of other issues ... important to him, including health care, the need to put in place police reforms," Psaki said.

Read more here

Ahead of tomorrow’s CDC panel meeting in the US, South Africa is resuming the J&J vaccine

South Africa will resume administering the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine to health care workers after temporarily suspending its use last week amid concerns over rare instances of blood clots.

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said Thursday that South Africa took a “precautionary measure” when it suspended the vaccination program last week, following a similar move by the U.S.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a joint statement calling for a temporary halt in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after six cases of blood clots were discovered in the more than 6.8 million people who had been inoculated.

Ntshavheni added that South Africa’s “temporary suspension” was in line with its “commitment to ensure that comprehensive safety measures are undertaken regarding the vaccine rollout.”

She said reviewed data confirmed that South Africa had not experienced any of the blood clots. 

Read more here

Good news: Early data indicate Pfizer, Moderna vaccines safe for pregnant women

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines appear to be safe for pregnant women after an early analysis of COVID-19 vaccine data found no evidence of serious risks. 

The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, examined data from the first 11 weeks of the U.S.’s vaccination effort, when only the two messenger RNA vaccines had emergency use authorization in the country. 

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Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studied responses from more than 35,000 women who reported getting one of the shots during or shortly before pregnancy in between Dec. 14 and Feb. 28.

Pregnant women experienced the same side effects as nonpregnant people, with reporting injection-site pain and nausea and vomiting more frequently after their second dose. But pregnant women were found to report headache, chills and fever less often. 

Why this matters: The analysis represents the largest study on the safety of the vaccine for pregnant women so far, as pregnant women were not included in the clinical trials for the shots.  

The study comes after health officials, including at the CDC, and experts have advised that the COVID-19 vaccine be available to pregnant women and that these women talk to their doctors when deciding whether to get vaccinated. 

Pregnant women have been found to be more at risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 than nonpregnant women with symptoms. 

Read more here

COVID-19 'long haulers' more likely to seek medical care six months after infection: study

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A large study published Thursday found that COVID-19 survivors who weren’t hospitalized were about 60 percent more likely to die and 20 percent more likely to need outpatient care than uninfected individuals.

The research featured in the journal Nature showed that these non-hospitalized COVID-19 survivors were more likely to seek medical care for several different long-term medical problems, including respiratory issues, as well as neurological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and mental health problems. 

Researchers analyzed data from the Veteran Health Administration (VHA) of more than 73,000 people who survived at least the first 30 days after getting diagnosed with COVID-19 and were not hospitalized. Out of that, 1,672 patients, or about 2.3 percent, died, although the cause of death was not mentioned. 

The study compared that group with the almost 5 million VHA users who did not have COVID-19 and were not hospitalized. 

The research reflects the experience of most Americans diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past year, as most of the more than 31 million people diagnosed with the virus in the U.S. did not end up in the hospital.

Key quote: “Long covid can affect nearly all organ systems,” Ziyad Al-Aly, the chief of research and development service at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System who led the study, said.

"The burden of long covid is substantial, and we should prepare for it," he added.

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Almost one-third of health care workers thought about leaving jobs: poll

Almost one-third of health care workers considered leaving their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Thursday.

Twenty-nine percent of health care workers said they “considered no longer working in health care,” while 71 percent said they never thought about changing their careers. 

The survey underscores the strain health care workers have been under since the start of the pandemic. Fifty-five percent of the workers said they felt “burned out,” 62 percent said the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health and 47 percent said they either had trouble sleeping or are sleeping too much as a result of the stress.

When asked about major sources of stress, 81 percent of health care workers said they were concerned about being exposed to the coronavirus at work, and 79 percent said they were concerned about exposing others in their households to the virus.

At the time of the survey, conducted Feb. 11-March 7, health care workers had received far more vaccinations proportionally than the general population. While only 18 percent of adults overall said they had received at least one vaccine dose, 52 percent of health care workers had gotten at least one shot, though 48 percent still hadn't gotten one.

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What we’re reading

The flu vanished during Covid. What will its return look like? (New York Times)

Doctors scramble to understand long Covid, but causes and prognosis are elusive (Kaiser Health News)

How India went from a ray of hope to a world record for most COVID cases in a day (NPR)

State by state

D.C., Maryland say they are clearing vaccine waitlists, as outreach efforts expand (Washington Post)

Connecticut legislators ignore industry opposition to back legislation expanding state health insurance coverage for more people (Hartford Courant)

Michigan's COVID-19 case rate appears to have peaked as surge slows (Detroit Free Press)